Post Published on December 20, 2011.
Last Updated on April 9, 2016 by davemackey.
A Few Caveats…
There are a few important thoughts which didn’t fit well into the main text of this article, but which I think are worth commentary around the article for purposes of clarification:
- I’m not suggesting that we moan and groan about every difficulty in our lives. This is annoying and fruitless. Folks won’t want to be around us if we do that…but I am also suggesting that maintaining a front of perfectionism is dangerous – not only if we are explicitly showing a false face but also b/c we may implicitly communicate a false face to others. Our seeming “perfection” to others sets unachievable goals – which they then create a false face to achieve which creates higher goals for us and so on and so on.
- For me the topics of mental health and spirituality are intimately intertwined. Dr. John White has done some excellent work on this topic from a Christian perspective in his work 1To understand why I prefer such a order of treatment see Dr. Peter D. Kramer‘s excellent book Against Depression (written from a secular perspective).
- If you have two individuals struggling with a weakness – whether physical, mental, or spiritual – we must use all humility in considering this weakness. For example, we should not assume that b/c someone commits adultery and we do not that we are inherently more strong or spiritual than they. Rather, we must acknowledge that the resistance which they have weighed against their sin may exceed the resistance we have exerted against our sin.
- Let us use the example of John and James. John has committed adultery. James is sure this makes him inferior to himself morally. However, John’s biological makeup, work environment, and familial history all weigh in to increase the amount of temptation John experiences. James has a fairly low sex drive (biological makeup), works with no attractive women his own age (work environment), and has a fairly healthy familial history (no physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, etc.) – so he experiences significantly less temptation. If we could quantify these values we would see that John had actually more strenuously resisted sin than James – even though John has committed the more depraved act – James perhaps having committed a “lesser” act (in his mind or by societal standards) such as lusting, flirting, or viewing pornography.
- Let us put some numbers to this equation. John and James both begin at 0.
- John gets +10 in temptation b/c of his biological makeup, James gets +5.
- John gets +10 b/c of his work environment, James gets +0.
- John gets +10 b/c of his familial history, James gets +2.
- Now, if both are tempted with a threshold point of 50 for giving in to their temptation John begins at 30 and James at 7. It 50 is the point at which adultery is committed, John will have moved up the scale from his natural position by 20 points. Meanwhile, John may have “only” committed a lesser sin (which perhaps takes him to 30 points) and yet in reality he has moved up the scale by 23 points.
- I am not suggesting that we should not judge at all, Scripture seems to teach principles of judging and not judging…I am suggesting that we cannot assume that b/c one individual has committed a certain sin that that in any way indicates our spirituality is advanced over theirs.